With Broadway theaters closed because of COVID-19, the excitement of live performance is missed by many. Now, thanks to the cinematic imagination of director Spike Lee, the on-stage energy of the musical “David Byrne’s American Utopia” recently generated on Broadway comes to life on screen in a film celebrating the thrill of musical theater. This New York Film Festival selection begins its run on HBO on Oct. 17.
Lee - who continues his good year at the movies that started with “Da 5 Bloods” - creatively uses his camera to make us feel we are on stage with Byrne and his cast of versatile performers. While working within the limitations of capturing a live performance on camera, Lee manages to respect the source material as he reinvents the experience. As a result, the piece works as a movie while preserving the magic generated by its live performance.